The Joy of Traveling as a Couple

By Nomadic Matt | Published March 31st, 2011

Editor’s Note: This is the start of a series of posts by Ant and Elise, a couple that has been traveling together for over a year, on the ups and downs of traveling as a couple. They will be writing a monthly column on traveling as two since I want to be able to provide some advice for couples traveling and I tend to travel mostly alone.

Traveling as a couple is unlike anything else. You’re not alone nor are you just traveling with some friends. It is more than that. You are traveling together as a unit, and as such you get to share all your experiences (the ups and the downs) with someone else. It’s about seeing places and sights for the first time and knowing you have done it together. It’s about creating memories that you can look back on for years to come knowing you shared them with each other.

Elise and I have been together for five years, engaged for one year and we have been traveling as a couple since the beginning of 2010. We decided to travel long term because we wanted to explore the world, rather than working our fingers to the bone. We saved hard for three years, quit our jobs, sold our things, and never looked back.

Was it the right decision? We think so. Deciding to travel together was one of the easiest choices we ever made. People told us that traveling as a couple will either ‘make or break’ our relationship and, in all honesty, I can see how that may be the case. You are with the other person 24/7 and you really do get to know them on a deeper level. There is no hiding who you really are. It can be tough for some people, but, while there have been trying times, it has only made us stronger.

The biggest thing that makes couples travel work is compromise. Although Elise and I have similar interests, there are still many times we give and take with one another. Not only does compromising allow your partner to experience something that they really want to do, it also opens your own eyes to another side of travel that you might not have experienced on your own. That is what couples travel is all about. It’s about doing things with and for your partner.

It is inevitable, however, that you are bound to fight at one stage or another. The times that Elise and I have had disagreements are usually over matters that don’t need addressing. We’ve discovered that the underlying factor to most of our arguments is that one of us just needs some ‘me’ time. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have some time on your own. Doing your own thing for a while really helps you  appreciate the other person and it also helps you to see things from their perspective. Just spending a few hours on your own sometimes can make all the difference even if you haven’t been fighting with your partner. The best solution to an argument is to talk with each other truthfully and listen to what your partner has to say. You have time to come to a resolution and there is no need to blow anything out of proportion. Nipping the issue in the bud, before things get out of hand is always the best way to try and solve problems. Communication is the key to any successful relationship.

On the other hand, the support that comes from couples travel is greatly rewarding. When you are sick or tired, your partner is there to pull you out of the rut, cheer you up and get you back on your feet. Your partner will be there when you need someone to talk to and when you want to share your deepest fears and sorrows. You get to see each other in a new light and learn more about each other than you ever would when you are back at home. You are that little piece of home to each other that is so good to have around.

Traveling together enhances the quality of time you get to spend with your loved one. Because you are with someone 24/7 there is always the opportunity to be able to have a laugh, have a chat and play together. You are really able to appreciate the small moments together. Waiting for a bus for 12 hours can end up feeling like 5 minutes.

Whatever way you look at it, traveling as a couple is a unique experience. It bonds you and brings you together; it is something special that you both share that will truly last a lifetime.

Anthony is one half of the dynamic duo at Positive World Travel. Both he and Elise will be writing about their experiences and thoughts on what long-term travel is like as a couple. You can also follow them on Facebook for more of their travel updates.

comments 31 Comments

We’ve also been traveling as a couple since early 2010, and your comments ring true for us. Being honest with each other, and yourself, both before you set out and while you’re on the road, is critical to success as a traveling tandem. We’re fortunate in that our interests generally align, but no two couples share identical interests or priorities. And even though we agree 95% of the time, the other five percent needs to be discussed and compromises made. And those compromises aren’t just about what to do, but about how to do it; when to do it; and where to do it. But when done right, nothing is better than having someone you love share the best moments of your life . . . all of them. It’s an incredible experience.

Thanks for the great post. I’m off to your blog now to see what else you’ve been up to.
Happy travels,
Brian

Brian, I agree that sharing this experience with your loved one is the best thing in the world. But it is also important that we don’t sugar-coat couple travel. It is hard work and communication is the key. We will be delving into all aspects of couple travel over the coming months.

Helen

Always love to read about couples travelling, as me and my other half are setting out October this year!

Can’t wait to hear more of what Ant & Elise have to share!

Thanks Helen! We have so many more stories and articles to share with you! I bet you are excited to travel in October! Where are you heading off to?

Helen

Our first stop is Indonesia, Borneo then the Philippines. We also have a rough itinerary for Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and hopefully Burma & India also. Then of course Australia & New Zealand….and money dependant we then want to spend some time in South America. Where are you guys at the moment?

Have checked out some of your pics, they all look fantastic! I think we may have to make a trip to Sipadan Island!

Helen

Wow! That sounds like such a great itinerary! It is very similar to ours. We spent a year in South East Asia as well as Nepal and India and then we went the US for about 1 month (so expensive!) and I had my first white christmas in NYC! We are currently in Mexico, about to make our way down into Central America and then South America. But we are also planning on living on the coast of Costa Rica for a while because Ant is dying for some good surf!
Sipadan is a MUST when you go to Borneo! Are you both divers? Snorkelling is pretty good too, but if you are divers I would highly recommend it. I have never seen so many turtles in my life! As well as the barracuda, sharks, ‘nemo’ fish….the list goes on!

Great article – I think you sum up travelling as a couple perfectly! I look forward to following your adventures – and Im off to check out your blog right now! : )

We hope to bring you some more insights into coulpe travel in this monthly column. Thanks for checking out our travel website :) We look forward to bringing your more adventures in all forms of media.

I can really relate to the need for me time. My boyfriend and I first took our trip to Europe together last year. It was big for both of us since neither of us had been. We definitely learned a lot about each other and definitely fought when we were at the breaking points that were enhanced by language barriers and those taxi cabs in Rome who aren’t certified and charge you double! You have to be supportive for each other despite the fact that neither of you may know how to make sense of the travel location but it will come with patience. Now I feel like we can take on the world together.

Hey Murissa, it’s great that you overcome the obstacles and challenges travel throws at you while you were travelling with your partner. I really believe that travelling together brings you closer to each other. It really is all about support and it can be frustrating at times, like you said about not knowing a place or how to navigate your way around, but if you stick with each other and go through it all together-only good things can come from that! :)

Great article. So nice to have someone take care of you when you aren’t feeling well travelling (and returning the favor of course)

You really get to know a person on a much deeper level when you travel with them.

Look forward to following more on your travels.

That is one to the best things when traveling as a couple. You have a little slice of home with you everywhere you go. When you are sick or tired all you want is for someone to take care of you. Your other half is all you have and who doesn’t like to be looked after. I think I have a touch on the flu coming on now…

You’re dead on when you say many disagreements seem to arise from the need of “me” time. My wife and I are also a young couple, having traveled together for about 5 years. On our first trip to Europe together, I was in the absolute worst mood one afternoon. This, in turn, brought down my wife’s mood and we wound up bickering with one another while walking the streets of Barcelona. Finally, a few minutes later the solution hit her….I needed a nap. Problem solved….

Great article…look forward to reading more!

Thanks D.J. ‘Me’ time is so so important and like you said quite often a little afternoon nap or a ‘nanna nap’ as Elise likes to call it! – can solve many a problem!

I agree that travelling with your partner, if the timing is right, is the most amazing thing on Earth. It strenghtens your relationship even in the weak moments. I think that once you’ve been 24/7 with someone for months, you’re good to go. And that’s exactly what happened with my fiancé, although we did have some adjustments to do.

Can’t wait to read more of this series!

Couldn’t agree with you more! We look forward to writing more for you about our thoughts and tips on couples travel!

Anthony,
I think you touched a lot of topics that can be applied to all relationships even when they are not traveling. I really liked when you talked about compromise and about doing things for and with your partner. I love to travel with my husband. he is the greatest travel companion. Maybe that is why I married him.

Compromise is definitely the key word! Everyone seems to think so as well! Glad that you have found someone you can travel with and who makes a great companion too.

Sofia - As We Travel

I agree on all of the above :) Especially about compromising, it’s something you must learn how to do if you want to have a good trip together.

Hey Sofia! Compromising for sure is one of, if not THE most important thing. I think it is also important, even if you are not travelling together, but just to have a healthy and positive relationship in general. :)

A great post guys! You have really hit on how to “make ” it as a travelling couple. Craig and I would only ever really fight when we were really tired. This usually came about after an arduous 10 hour journey in the back of a pick up with the handle bars of a bike stuck up your butt and a rooster or small child nursing in your lap. The joys!!
You guys are so positive, fun-loving and friendly, you have the right attitude to make it as a travelling couple. with this attitude comes the ability to compromise and enjoy every moment together, even the bad ones. you’ll be laughing at them soon enough.
You two are definitely one of my favourite travel bloggers on the net. I highly recommend following Ant and Elise’s adventures, especially their awesome travel videos. They have a great story to tell
Can’t wait to meet you both in person when you return to Oz

Hey Caz,
The cheque’s in the mail :) Over the past ten years or so travelling with Craig I am sure you have had your ups and downs, but like you said you learn to even enjoy the downs. Even if it is laughing about “what the hell were we fighting for” in the first place. We try to keep everything as positive are possible with our journey whether it be communicating with each other or helping out local communities through our travels. We really work hard with our videos and it is another source of inspiration for other couples to take the leap and explore the world for themselves. You and Craig a great source of inspiration for us and we believe it is people like you within this community that make this experience a whole lot more enjoyable. Thanks for the support guys. I owe you a couple of beers ;)

This is a great post! I’ve only ever done solo travel before, but me and my partner will be travelling together come December time (currently saving the pennies) and I can’t wait! Plus, it’ll be nice to have someone to hold my hand whilst I spasm and jitter over every bump or noise on a long-haul flight…

Can’t wait to read more of your posts :)

Where will you be travelling to? You must be pretty excited!! And yes, having someone there to comfort you is always good! I am SO scared of walking over big swing bridges and we had to cross so many while we were in Nepal! At least Ant was there to say ‘It’s OK just keep walking’……..although there were times when he would purposely jump up and down on them to make them swing and move even more!! :P

I’m excited to read more of this series!

My partner and I travel together and really wouldn’t have it any other way. People always assume that if you spend 24/7 with someone that you’ll get tired of them (and that can certainly be the case with some people, lol), we find that we miss each other after even a day spent apart.

Christy, we can totally can relate to missing each other. It just seems strange to be apart now and when we do spend a day doing separate things and when we see each other again we have so much to tell on another about our experiences. It now just seems normal for Elise to always be around 24/7 now.

It will definitely test your relationship, but it will only make you stronger as a couple. The best part is that you will be sharing all your experiences with him and will be able to reflect on them for many years to come. We can’t wait to bring you more tips and advice on traveling as a couple!

I haven’t done any long-term travel with my husband yet–only five days here and four days there–but I love how travel can bring some spice to a relationship. It’s so exciting to discover a brand new place together. I also agree that some “me” time is necessary–it’s always important, but especially so on long trips. It’s totally normal to want some alone time, but I think some people are afraid to ask.

This was our first really long trip together as well. Prior to this we had only done a 6 week trip to India & Nepal about 3 years ago and the odd weekend away. It really is exciting exploring a place together for the first time, but also revisiting places together to. Ant & I had done separate trips to Thailand before we met one another, but going there with each other was just as exciting!

I’d be very interested in following Elise and Ant’s column, as I am considering traveling with my long term boyfriend of 3.5 years. (It’d be a first time international travel expedition for both of us, so I’m a bit scared at the thought, but also excited.) It was really great and reassuring to hear that travel has made you stronger in your relationship.

The main thing I hear from other people is that it’s nearly impossible to be together 24/7 without nitpicking and fighting about small things; like you said, there has to be some solo time to go off and do your own thing, and to get away from each other for a while. One thing I’m afraid of is not meeting as many people as a couple as you would traveling solo or perhaps with a friend. I worry that you’ll be spending so much time together and being such a “unit” all the time that maybe social opportunities don’t arise as often. Have you two made a lot of new friends on your travels?

I think my favorite line from the article was, “You are that little piece of home to each other that is so good to have around.” So true! It’s great to be immersed in a totally new and foreign experience, but it’s reassuring and surely makes everything more comfortable to have someone loving and familiar around. Great post, can’t wait for more. :)

Hi Hana,

Thanks for your kind words. We are looking forward to writing more about couples travel for sure! I think that if you have a pretty good, open and honest relationship from the start then when you travel things can really only get better. Being able to explore the world together like you are going to do with your boyfriend will definitely be such an exciting experience. It is also normal to be a little scared about travelling with your partner-even I was and Ant and I had been overseas together before, just not for this long, but in the end, excitement outweighs any other thoughts!

Also, travelling together has allowed us to meet a whole heap of travellers while we have been on the road. I think there is a misconception that couples don’t meet new people. We often have quite a few solo travellers who will often chat to us in bars, hostels and we’ll go out to eat dinner with. We’ve also met other great couples that we still keep in contact with now. If you are the sort of couple who likes to meet new people and make friends then you’ll have no shortage in doing so while you are travelling!

Thanks again for your support!

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